Letters to the Editor 1/27/2010
by Letters to the Editor, January 30, 2010
AB WATCH GOES GLOCK
She's full of duty! I hope Ms. Woolsey will be issued her very own uniform, badge, radio, and Glock 40 with an autograph from Governor Schwarzenegger. She can then look through her spotting scope, keeping track of neighbors, boaters, rock pickers, divers, sunbathers and all whom cross her nosy path.
Keep the watch, Ms. Woolsey.
C.W.T..I.E., Citizens Who Turn In Everyone
Rarely have I been moved so much by a piece of writing as by Tony Judt’s “Night” in the New York Review of Books of January 14, 2010. It reminded me of Peter Abelard's forward to his “Kisteria Calamitatum” — the story of my misfortune:
“Often the hearts of men and women are stirred, as likewise they are soothed in their sorrows, more by example than by words. And, therefore, because I too have known some consolation from speech had with one who was a witness thereof, am I now minded to write of the sufferings which had sprung out of my misfortunes, for the eyes of one who, though absent, is of himself ever a consoler. This I do so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth not, or at the most but of small account, and so you shall come to bear them more easily.”
Thank you, Mr. Judt.
PS. I think of the unutterable horror of the suffering in Haiti and those poor bonus boys on Wall Street who are going to have to get by with fewer millions!
WORSE THAN MAGGIE
The Women's Peace and Justice organization, PACOR, has called Richard Cheney, “just another Margaret Thatcher with a penis.” That seems a bit disrespectful, but I am not sure to whom or what.
HOW DO YOU PLEAD?
Yo Mighty Editor --
Heavens to Betsy. Was Al Blue having his period when he wrote the letter in the 1/13 AVA? For the record, I've missed his reading list, except for “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, at which I made an effort, but found it the dullest thing I ever read, and tossed it part way through. Personally, I'd rather watch Ayn Rand kiss your ass than watch you lick sweat from her balls, but this just shows how out of touch old Al and I are. And I get an increasingly great kick out of Emil Rossi. He's so totally right on.
But that's all by the way. My main point is addressed to Bruce McEwen. Sir: I've been looking the other way on your inability to conjugate “plead” (something of a want in a court reporter) because on the whole I find your articles excellent. For your information, the past tense is “pled” or “pleaded,” unless you are using the indicative, e.g., “He did plead guilty; I heard him.” But now you've gone too far.
In your January 13 article, more than once you refer to Nancy Henthorne, 68, as an “old lady.” Please note a woman of 68 is not an “old lady.” That she is a grandma is irrelevant. I know several grandmas younger than that. If you really feel it necessary to characterize someone according to their age, you might better say, “a woman of a certain age.” (This is most polite.) Or, “a somewhat elderly woman” (more specific, though less polite). An “old lady” is more like around 90, though I expect to get a few arguments on that definition (and lose some).
Keep trudgin’ and best wishes,
The idea of a slaughterhouse in Mendocino County has recently been proposed by the Economic Development and Financing Corporation, based on studies by UC agricultural and economic experts. In principle, having a local plant makes sense because there is a lot of local livestock that are now shipped to either Petaluma or Orleans for processing. That is expensive and it takes a toll on the animals.
Whether a particular proposal is a good one depends on water, waste disposal, slaughter method (read “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin to get an idea of what humane slaughter involves), working conditions, pay for workers, and location, location, location.
On the location issue, I agree with the writers of the study that the site should not be Ukiah Valley, largely because of the opposition of business interests. Instead, the site should be more rural, but near good roads.
A slaughterhouse would have to be very, very different from the one in Petaluma which was described by a friend this way: “One Thanksgiving day several years ago, I drove by it just to get an idea of what it could look like. Etched in my mind's eye from that drive-by is a picture of one lone cow standing in damp manure, looking totally forlorn. Yuck. No, no, no!”
Irrigated pastures with some animals on it would be a bucolic scene that would not engender the horrible thoughts that the Petaluma operation does.
NO MORE BANKS?
There are many antitrust laws which were created through the years to stop monopolies which simply put controls on a market because monopolies eliminate competition which I have said many times is a holy word and in essence has given us in the US at top standard of living but has been severely curtailed by many segments of our economy which protects their interests.
One of these is government unions. Private unions have competition. When they demand too many rules and run up costs they ruin the company as there is always some company which will produce the service or product cheaper. It happened in the auto industry in Michigan. There is only one Ukiah, one California, or US, and there is no competition in any of their unions. They grow and grow because there is no competition. They grow and grow because there is no accountability.
A week or so ago this fellow was going to blow up a passenger airplane. He was a known terrorist but our intelligence agencies which have big egos and don’t work together let him get on a plane and by luck he didn’t blow up the plane. Our president Obama said this was unacceptable, but we have to quit pointing fingers. He never said what he was going to do about it. In other words, no one will be held accountable for almost killing some 200 people.
Some examples: we have people who rob banks. If we say it’s unacceptable but do nothing to them, guess what would happen? No more banks.
Suppose the government said people of Anderson Valley, you must buy everything in Anderson Valley because when you go over the hill your car spews out bad gases. Of course being a good American the merchants would charge what the market would bear. Those costs would go through the roof.
That scenario also works the other way: when competition gets so tough things can be selling below cost. What the market will bear can be brutal, but it keeps prices in balance. The problem is government unions have no competition and are actually illegal with costs skyrocketing.
Our Board of Supervisors says since the county is broke so they have to find revenue enhancing measures (that’s taxes). The latest is charging for weights and measures inspections. For 60 years I always thought that that’s what we have been paying taxes for — to get a real pound of hamburger and a real gallon of gas when we buy them.
Next we will have a new tax so the tax collector can tax us.
Then they talk of building a new courthouse. Number 1 is you ain’t got no money. Number 2 is there’s nothing wrong with the courthouse that a very few dollars would make it look like new. It’s a classic and efficient structure. Number 3 is the center of Ukiah is alive because of the courthouse. Move it and we make the city center a desolation of closed businesses. We have seen it happen in many places and then the City spends a fortune unsuccessfully trying to revitalize the city.
If Costco wants to come to the Ukiah area and is willing to pay for all the problems a big business can create (traffic, water, etc.), that’s their right to be here and our government don’t subsidize it *in any way*. It’s their right.
I think this is still a free country. If our government people are so smart in business, why aren’t they out in the private world making bundles of moola? We here out in the private world have all taken the recession hit 15% if one is lucky. And all the way to bankruptcy or no job, if not lucky. No one wants their income cut. But to repeat myself, the only fair way is #1 cut unnecessary and excess services and then cut everyone’s (absolutely, no exceptions) income and benefits. The board can’t bring in heads of departments. They will all give you the same answer: “We’re underfunded and overworked.”
The fight over the sales tax is kid stuff. Are Ukiah city, Mendocino County and the other cities of Mendocino all different nations? Costco brings no new appreciable income to the residents of Mendocino County. There is just so much money here to be spent.
REVITALIZING UKIAH RAIL
I am willing to volunteer my time at the railroad depot to watch the depot as a security guard after it is restored and rebuilt to the way it looked in 1929 when it was built. We can keep the homeless away to make sure the glass windows don’t get broke to pieces or all marked up by the gangs.
After it is rebuilt, get a diesel engine and three or four old passenger railcars to start using the rail. Start a short run to Willits, Ukiah, Hopland and Cloverdale at the railroad depots already built, charge little at first, then build the ridership. It will take a while. Do it like the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg as a tourist train.
Put a railroad museum in the Ukiah depot, gift shop, ticket office, restrooms, model railroad of a small layout. On the outside, put two or three old passenger cars from the 40s or 50s on a siding by the depot as an historical railroad exhibit.
FAIR PLAY FOR PIGS
It has come to my attention that the Army Core of Engineers at Lake Mendocino is planning to trap the feral pigs in the wild area around the dam and shoot the pigs in the traps. This is a most inhumane way of treating any animal. The feral pigs were released into the wild in this area by settlers going back at least 100 years. Now they are part of the ecosystem. Once again the Army Core of Engineers goes along killing animals and doing whatever they want without any input from the community. In the past the rangers spent their time trapping neighborhood cats and taking them into Animal Control. Fortunately the new Animal Control does not just kill cats brought into the shelter, we manage to re-home most of them. So now the rangers are turning their time to killing other animals. What this has to do with taking care of a water project and the Dam, I have no idea. Obviously the rangers have plenty of paid time to waste!!
Thanks for reading this,
Director Anderson Valley Animal Rescue
Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!
If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?
How about Mark Scaramella?
Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.
Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.
I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems. Here’s his reply.
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Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”
The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term.
If I were supervisor I would spend half my salary on outside specialists, auditors and attorneys to develop proposals for cost savings, workload decreases, and reasonable new revenues. I would also organize “tiger team” audits for larger departments enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget and provide clear information and recommendations, instead of (or in addition to) the governmental mush now referred to as a “budget.”
With these long-overdue decent management reporting and information system upgrades, the Supervisors and in turn the various county departments, can get a handle on what drives county costs and what can be done to prevent them.
The financial situation is grim, but unless the Supervisors and top managers get clear information, all they can do is flail away in the dark. As with any organization in financial difficulty, all top management positions and salaries would have to be cut as a major first step toward balancing the budget and retaining line workers. If and when the budget situation improves, those salaries and positions can be re-evaluated at that time.
If the other Supervisors on the board are unwilling to consider the necessary management reporting system improvements and management cost reductions, then they will be personally responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.
Blunt talk about the County’s problems and organizational needs is in very short supply. The current crop of supervisorial candidates offer nothing in the way of managerial experience or ability. And whichever of them is elected, they will only produce more of what we’re (not) doing now.
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If you would like to see a Supervisor impolite enough to demand an effective, efficient, and workable county, let Mark know that you want something done about our woeful county leadership.
Thank you very much for publishing my recent letter. I appreciate that you are open to dissenting viewpoints.
I also appreciate how widely read the AVA is because since your current edition came out I have heard from friends from all over the country wondering if I authored the inane communications from Steve Heilig and Randy Wilson. One person even angrily suggested that I wrote these letters as part of a “Randian frameup” to besmirch critics of Objectivism. I want to assure everyone that I did not.
Rand's critics are perfectly capable of making themselves fools without my help.
As for Steve Heilig, I have to confess I never heard of this “book critic.” A “book critic” is someone who can't write a book as Shaw used to say. The two new hatchet jobs by Burns and Heller have been rebutted at length on the ARI website as well as the Amazon site and Heller's own Facebook page. Steve Heilig is reduced to ad hominems. Pathetic.
As for Randy Wilson, Objectivism is a total philosophy like Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel. Whether one agrees with it or not is irrelevant to its being a full philosphy. The tens of millions of purchasers of Rand's novels give the lie to Wilson's nonsequitur.
As far as MLK goes, I never advocated anyone's assassination. I wrote as long as he is gone, good riddance, and that also applies to JFK, RFK, Malcolm X, Lincoln Rockwell and the rest of the deplorable sixties icons.
PS. Don't waste your money on Haiti, send it to Meg Whitman. A far more productive use of funds. She has spent a ton of her own money and now the rest of us need to pony up.
OUTTA THE BLUE
Regarding Ayn Rand's balls, outside of her cult Rand is generally considered a purveyor of high tone S/M erotica. I prefer the more proletarian thrills of “Peyton Place.”
Seriously, when Mr. Blue implies that the assassination of Dr. King was a good thing, the logical progression, following that Soviet/Nazi/Totalitarian model, is that all socialists should be shot and “good riddance”: Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Dorothy Day, etc.
Oh, that's right. Somebody did shoot Orwell, some fascist in Spain.
“I was running from the law / they was after my head / for seeing what was happening / and for the truth I said.”
Have you noticed lately the onslaught of highway law enforcement? Aka, CHP, sheriff, city police?
Have you been unwilling or afraid to drive somewhere because you might unknowingly have one of your license plate lights out, momentarily speed a little bit, or maybe your car might break down and you have to leave it for 30 minutes unattended? Well, you are not alone.
“We used up three citation books in two days last weekend,” a CHP officer was overheard bragging at Little River Market. “…And I have set up two speed traps between here and Mendocino,” he went on, strutting around the store like some little Napoleon who finally figured out the joke. “I’m going to show these coast people that they have to abide by the law,” he went on to boast.
Last week, a friend of mine was driving to Fort Bragg and his car broke down. He and his traveling companion pulled a little off Highway 1 onto an intersecting road and while they searched under the hood for the problem, they saw a CHP drive by three times, never once pulling over to offer assistance.
After deciding to go into Fort Bragg and obtain a part to fix the car they got a ride to town. Upon their return, no more than 35 minutes later, they found the CHP officer, a tow truck operator and their vehicle hooked to the tow truck. With part in hand they asked the tow truck driver to let their car down so they could fix it. But the CHP officer (supposedly a servant of the people) said that he had to impound the car since it was already hooked to the tow truck.
The tow truck driver told my friend that this was the third miscall of the day that they had received (a miscall is when the owner of the vehicle shows up before his car can be towed). Since the tow truck driver could not charge for the earlier miscalls, my friend thinks the CHP officer had him tow his car so the tow-truck driver could bill someone, to the tune of $280 to get his car out of impound.
I have heard two stories this past week of a CHP officer abruptly turning around (endangering who knows how many people) and then speeding up behind a car and tailgating them for a mile or two or until the tailgated car turned off the road. Such willful intimidation is an increasingly common occurrence this past year.
Another friend was pulled over when she momentarily touched the center line with her tires (as if no one ever does that). The CHP officer (who was joined by another CHP unit) gave her a breath analyzer test. Her alcohol reading was .03, well below the legal limit of driving under the influence. The officers then kept her there for 45 minutes while threatening to arrest her and take her to jail. Finally she was allowed to drive home at 1:30am.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for the CHP doing their job of keeping drunk drivers off the road, but .03? Most people probably drive around most of time with that little amount of alcohol in their system. Is this a new strategy of intimidation the police are using? It is not just the CHP. The Fort Bragg police and the County Sheriff have also assumed this repressive posture and active use of constant intimidation.
I would like to know when our supposed “Peace Officers” became “Intimidation Officers.” These men and women are supposed to be public servants. They are employed by “the People” (Us) to serve and protect the common good, not to harass and subject the citizenry to fear and anxiety every time we drive our vehicle. When did we move to a Police State?
I have talked with several restaurant owners who worry they might go out of business because people are afraid to go out to dinner and possibly enjoy a glass of wine, because they might be pulled over for going 35 in a 30 mph zone, or have a license plate light out, or slightly touch the yellow or white road lines, or any flimsy excuse to pull someone over (as if they need one, which they do) and then be harassed for an hour because they have an alcohol blood count under the illegal .08 mark. Who needs the hassle? May as well just stay home. It would sure make their job easier with no one on the road.
I was talking to a friend who knows a sheriff who told him that when he gets drunk, he just calls one of his fellow sheriffs to give him a ride home. Well, why are we paying for the sheriff to give rides to his buddies, and why doesn’t he have to pay for a taxi like the rest of us? I guess it’s the “good ‘ol boys” club.
What do you think would happen if you called the sheriff and asked for a ride home because you were too drunk to drive? Well, I think you might be carted off to jail for being drunk in public. Maybe it would be a good idea if police officers were required to drive drunk people home. That way we might get our tax money’s worth.
What I really think is at the root of this recent obvious change to the aggressive attitude of our public servants, is not so much that they are this way normally (although, some of them might be, since anyone who wants to be a police officer has some power and control issues they should deal with). I would venture to bet that the City of Fort Bragg, the County of Mendocino and the State of California are in such dire economic straits that our public servants have been turned into Revenue Collecting Officers and instructed to squeeze every penny out of the public that they can, all under the guise of keeping the highway safe. “We need that revenue!”
All this does is needlessly harass, disrupt and in some cases destroy the lives of innocent, hard working people. All this for a few bucks.
I think the police, sheriff and especially the CHP need to be reined in. They did not used to behave in this arrogant, authoritative posture and physical intimidation tactics. When was the last time one of these public servants actually helped you without being forced to do so? Think about it. Unless they were actually called to assist you in some way they would just drive by in their car looking for someone to ticket or at least harass.
Even by my writing this article of questioning their motives I am taking the chance that I will be targeted when I drive my car and any minor infraction (or not) will lead to my being pulled over and grilled about my destination, where I came from, for what purpose, or any other thing they could find out to keep me from going on with my business and hopefully ticket me to add to the government coffers. In any case, they would let me know without a doubt that I was being watched by them, so I better be careful of what I suggest or question.
So, in that case, I am submitting this article anonymously. Who needs the hassle?
Call your local representative and voice your concern, if you have any, about the mounting repression from our paid public servants. You can also ask for a hearing with the CHP in Ukiah if feel you have been needlessly harassed or ticketed. The next ticket you save may be your own.
Is organized religion so pervasive that it can shape how we think? Alas, it is. In her book “Bright Sided” Barbara Ehrenreich lays it out there. The subtitle is: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.
Her main point is that this promotion goes all the way back to the turn of the century around 1900. It began with the movement called New Thought, and came up through Norman Vincent Peale, Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science and has morphed into the evangelical mega-churches.
Ehrenreich draws a parallel between early Calvinism and its doctrine of constant self-monitoring to put happiness in the service of greater material gain and the modern dictum of the positive thinking movement that encourages us to “get more.”
There are lots of problems with the compulsion to think positively. It encourages excessive individualism; it suspends critical thinking; it leads to a denial of reality; it promotes wishful, magical thinking. “Name it and claim it” goes the mantra.
All of this is based on the idea that we can have anything we want if we just want it badly enough. This is what corporate America is continually telling us. We have the right to more and more and more; God wants us to have abundance, even if it’s at the expense of most of the rest of the world. Don?t get critical or negative about global warming; don’t get critical or negative about the planetary epidemic of AIDS; don’t get critical about anything. Just keep the faith and remember, God is really an American.
This kind of groupthink does not make us any happier. Hell, one of three Americans are taking anti-depressants. This approach, positive thinking at all costs, has driven us into a state of denial that is threatening the existence of the planet. It is groupthink, and if you don’t go along with it you are thought to be a traitor.
This whole approach ties in with the right wing idea that each of us is totally, solely responsible for our condition; that social systems and exploitation have no part of causing an individual to have no health insurance or health care, no job, or whatever. There is, in my mind, a direct connection between the fetish to compulsively think positively and the supra-individualism in the American character. On the larger scene it plays right into the idea of American “exceptionalism,” the “shining city on a hill” of Ronnie and the idea that we are God’s chosen people.
Yes, we are individuals, but we are social beings who live in societies. Faith hasn’t moved the pile of dirt in my yard one inch.
Far’N Away Farm, Virginia
COMPASSION OR PROFITEERING?
While I’m grateful for access to pot clubs — I have AIDS and cancer — I am at a bit of a loss to understand why, given the virtual absence of risk in producing and distributing pot, it is still so expensive. When the concept of compassionate distribution was being promoted, I envisioned low-cost outlets staffed by volunteer members. (Naive socialist utopian dreamer!) What we have so far are facilities charging the high end of street prices to people who are already ostensibly facing hardship.
That $150 an ounce you see in the papers hasn’t been seen in San Francisco since the ‘70s. An ounce for $300 to $400 is closer to the facts.
Legalization may be a factor in reducing the crime problem, but as long as marijuana is so expensive, it will continue to be attractive to criminals. If the stuff were really cheap, or free, there would be little profit to draw thieves, murderers, or Mexican cartels. So, besides basic capitalist greed, why does it still cost so much? Most of the truly disabled and terminally ill are on a fixed income, rendering the cost of pot not all that compassionate.
YACKIN’ & YELLOW
Letter to Editor
Reading in the recent (“Murray Case Goes to Trial”) about the tactics being used by the defense lawyer for Arena Union School Superintendent I-am-yellow, I was reminded of the old gangster code: “Admit nothing, deny everything, kill the witnesses.”
Memo Of The Week
The Hi-Desert Chapters of the John Birch Society, a national patriotic organization “Standing for Family and Freedom,” will hold their FREE monthly meeting at 11: 00 AM preceded by a reception at 10:30 AM on Saturday, February 6, 2010 at McDonald's restaurant conference room, 19200 Bear Valley Rd., Apple Valley, California (west of Apple Valley Rd. across from Target Center).
Guest speaker Mr. Dean Gotcher from The Institution for Authority Research is internationally known for his research and is referenced as a source in many books and articles. He is a consultant to business, legislators, school board members, administrators, teachers and Bible-based ministers, as well as being a sought-after guest on radio talk-shows. Mr. Gotcher will be speaking on the subject of Dialectical mind control methods in American education and society at large.
For further information see The New American (www.thenewamerican.com) a magazine published by the John Birch Society (www.jbs.org). Call 1-800-JBS-USA-1 for a FREE DVD “Overview of America” and information packet). You may contact local members Ed Nemechek at 1-760-246-8059 or Charla Shamhart at 1-760-401-0689 or 1-760-365-3170.
THE MAGIC IS GONE
Life in The Magic Mountain: Mendocino
With all the turmoil going on in the world it is easy to slip into a routine in Mendocino County of thinking that we are indeed different than the rest of humanity that lives out there, in ‘the flatlands.’ The other night, while reading Loren Eisley’s autobiography, All the Strange Hours (he was an anthropologist of wide renown) an observation he made during the Great Depression brought me up short: “Jobless men keep going. We can’t take care of our own.” In his travels during that time he saw many such signs as he crossed America. But as fate would have it, Eisley made it through the depression and World War II, by then well established in his profession but lonely. He remembered his lost copy of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, in which 15 good friends, all fellow graduate students in 1936, had signed it. He was the last one of the signers remaining. “Our world was gone,” he said. His magic time, his magic mountain was gone.
Thomas Mann, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929 for having written The Magic Mountain well understood the seductive lure of remote places where the few might retreat, places where the resident gurus and technicians promised their charges ‘the cure.”
Like many transplants to Mendocino County, those who journeyed to the Berghof, that remote clinic high up in the Alps, became seduced by the promise of a cure to their malaise. Like today’s transplanted Mendocino residents, they had first come only for vacation or to visit a friend. But then the magic caught hold. But, the longer one lives in Mendocino County, the more one realizes that our resident gurus and technicians do indeed have us in their grips.
It is so easy to sink into the routine of thinking how different one’s values are from the rest of humanity toiling down in the ‘flatlands.’ In The Magic Mountain the patients became immobilized as they waited for the cure for what ailed them. They ate, huddled under their blankets, took their long hikes, flirted, and talked idly of the political realities consuming the world below. Mann saw how the horrors of The Great War had settled nothing and how the Weimar Republic was doomed to fail. And yet, the patients of the Berghof stood outside of it all, preoccupied with their own cure and trust in the resident staff (self-confident gurus and technicians) to achieve results.
So it is with Mendocino County today. There is a belief that we live in a ‘special’ place, a place outside, above, beyond what is looming on the horizon for the rest of America, for the world, for humanity. Some say it is because of an exceptional consciousness that Mendocino is different. Others believe that if one plans well enough, and listens hard enough to our own gurus and technicians that whatever happens Mendocino will somehow remain out of reach of the troubles consuming the ‘flatlanders.’ On the radio this morning the drone of alternatives ran on about the collapse of the almighty dollar and how ‘thinking locally’ is the answer. Or is it organic farming? Or is it sustainable logging? Is anyone kidding themselves that the way out of our own local financial difficulties lies in upscale wineries and pot farms?
We all know better, don’t we? Whatever happens down there, in flatland, will percolate up. It is already percolating up. So many of us still shop at the big box stores, keep our money in the mega-banks, watch with angst our 401Ks, and secretly hope that gas stays under $3. We are not so different from the rest of humanity after all.
What then is there to do? We can start complaining out loud, to anyone who will listen, that we have had enough of globalization that brings us Chinese goo-gas, while at the same time tears down the productive and market capacities of other countries (like Haiti). We can start turning out our elected officials en-masse. When the Supreme Court last week struck down a century of precedent that gave some protection against unfettered campaign donations, did you hear a single politician running for re-election this year protest? While the special interest lobbyists cram their appointment calendars with private meetings with our congress people, try getting an appointment yourself and see how far you get.
If Mendocino is indeed a special place, and who can deny that it has a unique attraction, it is also an ordinary place, or at least it should be. Mendocino could stand out as one place on the map where a line is drawn, beyond which no politician (local, state, or national) dares to cross. The vote is a powerful thing, for a little while yet. It is time we used it. Any politician who will not commit to turning back special interest monies should not get a single vote from Mendocino County. Any politician who is too busy to meet personally with constituents, and hear them out, should know, in no uncertain terms, that Mendocino County is no place to practice their brand of magic.
Every citizen of Mendocino County has some measure of power. The problem is that such power in individual terms in minute. However, in the aggregate it matters. There is no magic involved. One does not even need to attend a single meeting or write a single letter. Such actions do help, but they are not at the core of what is needed. Rather, when it comes to voting, in the primary and in the general election, it is time Mendocino County practice a special kind politics: vote for a fresh start and an end to politics as usual. Claude Raines said it best: Round up the usual suspects. Only once they are rounded up, turn them out. Demand fresh faces with fresh and open commitments to refuse to commit politics as usual. Only then can we say with sincerity that there is magic here, in Mendocino County. Until that happens stop pretending that we are indeed beyond the reach of ‘the flatlanders.’ Until we make a difference beyond our borders, there is nothing magic about Mendocino County.